Chennai | RNW | By Ranjani Ayyar, TNN | 2 Jan, 2016, 09:21 PM IST.
When Nikhil Sarup, founder of a legal startup, learned about the deplorable condition of Tara Balgopal, an 82 year old veteran danseuse, he offered to fight her case pro-bono. He also initiated a campaign on crowdfunding platform, Ketto. In less than 2 days, over 3 lakh poured in and when the campaign ended, Sarup had raised over 8 lakh from over 400 backers. That's the power of crowd.
As a concept, crowdfunding is not new to India. From Dhirubai Ambani's then small venture funded by locals to temples being built overnight with donations, India has harnessed crowd power. Startups such as Ketto, BitGiving and Wishberry have repackaged this age-old concept with a digital bow.
Crowdfunding platforms now cater to a plethora of causes from disaster relief,entrepreneurship, art, individual causes and environmental issues. When Delhi based animal care shelter Friendicoes was on the verge of shutting shop, animal lovers came to their rescue on BitGiving. Friendicoes managed to rope in upto 60 lakh (thrice the goal amount). "People are defining what they want to do and what the crowd resonates with", said Ishita Anand, co-founder, BtiGiving.
"While abroad, gaming and technology draw the crowd, closer home, it is sports related campaigns", said Anand. While BitGiving helped the Indian National Hockey Team bag over 5 lakh to support their participation in the Asian Championship, Catapooolt helped Anjum Jamsenpa raise 24 lakh to break her own record and summit Mt Everest for the fourth time.
2015 also witnessed ample backers for creative projects. "The arts space has always been patron driven. Such patronage is getting tech enabled as artists need a platform to connect with their audience," Anshulika Dubey, co-founder, Wishberry said. Punyakoti, an animated film in Sanskrit bagged 42 lakh from 300 funders on Wishberry in November this year. WishBerry has funded 250 projects totalling 7 crore with 15,000 backers till date. Dubey says moving forward, the focus would be on regional films.
Experts say the growth of such platforms may lead to a level playing field in the startupecosystem. "With the startup fervour gaining ground, youngsters are enthused to strike it out on their own and such platforms give them capital to propel their idea," said K Ramakrishnan, executive director & head - investment banking at Spark Capital, an investment banking firm.
Catapooolt, founded by Satish Kataria helped CarIQ, an Internet of Things product garner funds for its presales through Catapooolt. "Our platform has helped nurture some unique ideas such as Greensoles, a company that refurbishes sports shoes into slippers which raised about 2 lakh. Startups are no more at the mercy of investors," said Kataria. In two years, the platform has raised around 20 crore from over 14,000 contributors.
When the rains ravaged Chennai, multiple campaigns on Ketto raised 1.38 crore to date. Ketto, founded by Varun Sheth, Kunal Kapoor and Zaheer Adenwala in September 2012, has raised over 10 crore through 4000 plus campaigns. Several campaigns on Ketto are run by Bollywood celebrities like Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bacchan. "They not only bring credibility, but also help create buzz due to their strong social media communities," said Adenwala. On Ketto, several backers united for heart rendering causes such as a bone marrow transplant for a young girl in Mumbai which garnered over Rs 10 lakh and rehabilitation of a girl in Kolkata affected by an extreme case of Neurofibromatosis which raised a similar amount.